Western toads could be on the move soon. Signage in Ryder Lake will let people know when road closures are in effect.

Toad population in hills above Chilliwack may be crashing

This year there were only 20,000 toadlets counted in Chilliwack, based on a rough visual estimate by Fraser Valley Conservancy officials.

Fraser Valley Conservancy officials were ready to stop vehicle traffic in Ryder Lake to make way for the annual western toad migration.

But for some reason very few toadlets ended up crossing the road this year.

Conservancy reps are now talking about a possible crash in population numbers of the blue-listed toad species.

“The toads have been a bit of a mystery this year,” said biologist Micheal Pearson, president of the FVC.

The totals are just “a small fraction” of previous years’ numbers.

“We think the migration is almost over,” he reported in a news release.

The juvenile toads typically follow a migration route from their natal lakes up in the Ryder Lake area to nearby forested rearing grounds across the road. They are numbered in the tens of thousands, with a visual count of 700,000 last year.

This year there were only about 20,000 toadlets, based on a rough estimate by the Conservancy.

There weren’t enough juveniles on the move to justify closing the roads for extended periods.

“We are not sure what has happened, as the adults seemed to show up in the usual numbers to breed this spring,” said Pearson.

They’ve heard reports of a similar crash in a population on Vancouver Island — also unexplained.

“It may be a disease outbreak, but at the moment we simply don’t know. It is also unlikely we ever will for sure.”

Confirmation would have to come from “not quite dead” specimens, which they do not have at the moment.

One of the obstacles is gaining access to the breeding and rearing sites.

“It is difficult as both water bodies (Ryder Lake and Hornby Lake) are on private land,” said Pearson.

They obtained swab samples from two toads to test for Chytrid fungus, which has caused amphibian crashes elsewhere.

“But even finding it will not be conclusive, as it commonly occurs at low levels without causing harm.

“At present we are still monitoring the situation and discussing possibilities with some BC amphibian specialists,” said Pearson.

The FVC will continuing its efforts to raise funds for crossing structures for its Western Toad Migration program.

“I think this shows how important it is to make sure the adults can migrate safely to breed to keep their populations healthy, especially when they have one bad year,” said FVC official Suzie MacMillan.

The road closure signs are coming down this week, she added.



Just Posted

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: NatureKids “critterscape” at Cheam Lake Wetlands

A group of children helped keep invasive species in check at the local park

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read